Dunblane, Twenty Years On.

Dunblane SnowdropsI was 14 years old on 13th March 1996 and to my memory in English class when we were told there had been a shooting at a primary school in Scotland in a village I had not heard of. At 14 years old, I could never really comprehend what had happened. I watched the news reports and read the newspaper articles and I brought the charity single which made it to number one in the charts. I never even thought to try and grasp how those mothers felt the following weekend on Mother’s Day.

The trouble with motherhood is that it makes you so much more vulnerable to feelings you never knew you could have. Every week day I hug my daughter and kiss her goodbye as I drop her off at nursery. I say goodbye to her teachers whom I trust with her care. As I walk past the window I look in and watch her for a minute or two, running around with her friends, playing dress-up or showing her teachers the clothes  and shoes she chose to wear that day.

I still after three months of her starting there, get butterflies as I sit in the car outside the school gates waiting to collect her and I hope I will never take for granted hearing her name being called at home time and having her showering me with kisses as I struggle to help her with her coat.

My 14 year old heart went out to all those families who lost their loved one that day but 20 years on, my heart as a mother is breaking for those parents at the school waiting for six hours for news of their children’s welfare, and then coming to terms with the news and having to live with it afterwards.

Not only did they carry themselves with dignity, but it is with thanks to those grieving parents that our gun control is as stringent as it is, with no further school shootings. Their political campaign in the midst of their grief makes their achievements all the more commendable. The killer was known to the police and yet had done nothing against the law up to the point of opening the door to that gymnasium twenty years ago today.

They campaigned so that our children will not need to be identified by the name tags on their clothes or by school photographs. They campaigned so that we will always hear our children’s names being called at home time and so that we could always sneak glances in the window and watch our children play.

Evil entered the school grounds on that day but in the end love prevailed and twenty years on that is what we should remember. We should remember the beautiful children, their teacher Mrs. Mayor and the love that returned from that gymnasium.

For the Bairns of Dunblane.

 

 Opening image: www.dailyrecord.co.uk
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Love Is …

lovehands

1- Making sure you don’t leave the house without a hot coffee and some breakfast.

2- Moving the car in the evening so it’s easier for you in the morning.

3- Not batting an eye lid when you come downstairs with bleach on your upper lip or a full face mask on.

4- Rubbing your back when you are bent double over a bowl being sick despite your protestations for him to leave (because in your mind this is no way for a husband to see his wife).

5- Appreciating that just because you are a stay-at-home mother does not mean your life is any less stressful.

6- Remembering you in his everyday and bringing home treats from the office.

7- Celebrating your successes more than you do.

8- Always going that extra mile on special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day).

9- Never letting you walk past or go to sleep without a kiss.

10- Always thanking you after every meal you cook for the family.

Thank you for loving me. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr. Alphabet Games! 

Love

Opening image: younghoustonmagazine.com
Closing image: heandshe.in

Just Because…

something to say

1 – I am not boring.

Just because I read books you are not interested in does not mean I am boring.

2 – I am more than a job title.

Just because I am a stay at home mother does not mean I am not intelligent or wasting my life. I am raising the future.

3 – I am not little anymore.

Just because I was once a baby does not mean I have stayed that baby. I am a thirty-five year old woman and have thirty-five years’ experience behind me.

4 – I do have an opinion.

Just because I do not often say anything does not mean I do not have anything to say.

Just because I am younger than you does not mean I cannot offer advice. We all have different life experiences and have a different insight on events.

5 – I do have a resolve.

Just because I am quiet does not mean I do not have that resolve. Sometimes it takes a stronger person to keep quiet than to fill a room with the sound of their voice.

6 – Being busy is not an excuse.

The less involved you are in someone’s life, the less they are a priority to you.

7 – Flattery can go a long way.

Just because you are older does not mean you are eligible to criticise in order to advise. Sometimes it is nice to receive compliments. Sometimes compliments achieve more than criticism.

8 – Sometimes it is nice to be more than the token free babysitter.

Just because I am the youngest does not mean I cannot join in adult conversation. Sometimes I would not mind washing up or cooking or feeling like in my absence I would be missed for more than my babysitting.

9 – One person’s rubbish is another person’s gold.

Just because that is your opinion does not make it true nor does it define me.

10 – Conversation is food for the soul.

You cannot get to know a person unless you speak to them personally; reports through another person are superficial at best.

Opening image: www.jonstallings.com

The Loneliness of Motherhood

lonelinessWhen people say motherhood is lonely, they are absolutely right. But not for the reason they think. Yes, my days are sometimes lonely, having only my 18 month old to keep me company. Although we do go out together; we go to clubs and classes, for the majority of the time we are on our own. That is absolutely fine with me.  I love waking up everyday knowing that I get to spend another day with my baby girl. I love knowing that to a certain extent I am shaping her character and her view of the world.

Lately though I have felt the pressure of motherhood, the pressure of getting my daughter to meet the expectations of others, even the comparisons made with her cousins. I have been lonely not because I do not  have anyone to talk to but that nothing I do seems to be good enough. Even when I used to take my daughter to her monthly check-up at the local health clinic, I would walk away feeling like the worst mother. The worst mother for not continuing to breastfeed my daughter (even though she had a medical condition that made this near impossible). The worst mother for weaning my child onto solid food one month early (even though as soon as I placed her in her high chair that very first time, she sat there with her mouth open). I feel like the worst mother because my daughter does not always eat well at mealtimes. She is still on 3 bottles a day and for the most part, I’m still feeding her when she does eat.

I feel lonely because as a mother in today’s society I am constantly bombarded with what I am doing wrong, and not what is going right. I feel lonely because there is no one there to counter balance the bombardment. I feel lonely because all motherhood seems to be is a competition. We all have struggles in life and just because we outwardly portray collected lives does not necessarily mean that is the case.I often feel I am being punished for choosing to stay at home with my baby.

Just recently, I attended a birthday party for a family member. It was my first time away from my daughter during the evening and although it was an enjoyable night, what was less enjoyable were the sympathetic looks I got from people. One individual even looked at me with a tilt of her head and a feigned, sad smile and remarked: “you will go out again, promise me”. Not once, not twice but more than three times. I admit that I really enjoyed getting ready; wearing jewellery and make up and straightening my hair. My heart and mind, however were back home. It is my choice to stay home and everyday I consider myself lucky to be able to do so. In fact that is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I even turned down jobs and consciously held back my career pre-motherhood so I would have the freedom to be a stay at home mum. As a child, I used to say I wanted to be a housewife (I actually thought you got paid). This past Christmas, I was made to feel like a bad mother because I would not let my daughter cry herself to sleep. My husband and I both agree and are more than happy to cuddle our daughter to sleep, no matter how long it takes.

I don’t understand how and why mothers are judged for going to work or staying at home, for cuddling her baby or for letting her cry. Shouldn’t what really matter is whether the mother loves her child wholeheartedly? Answers on a postcard, please…

Mother-Teresa-Love-Quote

Opening image: vidzshare.net
Closing image: funchap.com

An Ode To My Girl

Mother and ChildI love the sound of her breathing. I love the shape of her face. I love the way she clings to my hair when I hold her in my arms. I love how she smiles at me first thing in the morning. I love how no matter what is on my mind and no matter the extent of my worries and troubles she can take them all away in an instant. I love how she makes me want to be a better person. I love how I get to spend everyday with her and sharing in her smiles and even her tears.  I love how her entire hand can wrap itself around my little finger. I love how she makes me miss her when I’m only downstairs. I love how when she is not with me, I find that I am always looking at where she is. I love how she takes my heart with her wherever she goes.

I love how not so long ago I was working in a busy office, dealing with trustees and well-known personalities and now I’m scrubbing clothes, sterilising bottles, changing nappies and crawling on my hands and knees in an attempt to make her smile. I love how everyday is different with her and yet the same. I love how already we are the best team. I love how she brings my loved ones closer. I love how she has changed my outlook on life.

Nothing could be more challenging in my opinion than motherhood. To always regard someone else’s needs above your own. To maintain your sanity when all you seem to be is forever drowning in laundry. It may sound like I am complaining but on the contrary – I never in my wildest dreams imagined motherhood to be as rewarding as it is. I may only be 3 months into it but it has been the best 3 months of my life. I love how she creates so many new challenges yet gives me the strength to overcome each and every challenge.

I love how I now have so much to look forward to with her by my side. I love how I am constantly torn between wanting her to grow and share more with her yet wanting her to stay just as she is.

More than anything I love how she makes me feel.

Mother and Daughter

 

 

Opening Image:  The Telegraph
Final Image: Integral Parenting

The Myths of Labour and Motherhood Revealed

Mother and ChildIt has been two months since my last blog post, not including the Alphabet Games Review from WordPress.com. It’s no surprising really as three days after The Casual Vacancy Review my beautiful daughter decided she was ready to enter the world. Since then, I have been knee-deep in nappies, struggling with sleepless nights and coming to terms with the reality of motherhood and also recovering from the realities of labour. I must say my labour experience was not as I expected it would be. There was a time when one midwife refused to see me when I needed her because I wasn’t making a big enough fuss. Even in the delivery suite, high on gas and air I remember looking over at my midwives annoyed because they were not paying attention to my contractions or even telling me when to push. My reality of labour was a far cry from One Born Every Minute I can tell you. I am a person who likes to know what to expect, I watched every episode of One Born Every Minute to learn what to expect in various scenarios, I wanted to feel in control. So for those of you who join me in the quest for control, below is a list of twelve facts I have discovered throughout my pregnancy and early motherhood:

1- Although you may not necessarily forget the pain of labour, you forget the intensity of it more or less instantly (at least I did).

2- Despite the sunny imagery of motherhood, you may not feel a surge of love for your baby straight away. I felt a great need to protect my daughter but only felt the overpowering wave of motherly love once we got home two days later.

3- The  recovery process does not end after labour. Do not expect other people who have not had children to understand this. In giving birth you are ultimately setting foot in the boxing ring with Mike Tyson with no protection. You will feel like you have been hit by a tonne of bricks and there is no let up. It will take months to fully recover.

4- No matter how supportive your husband is, parenthood is never an equal partnership. As the mother, you have to carry the child, you have to give birth. Ultimately it is the mother’s ‘say that goes’. The mother opens the gates to fatherhood and as the mother you have the ability to open them as wide as you wish. Take my advice though, do not open the gates so wide that you feel excluded, particularly during the early days.

5- Breastfeeding does not come naturally to many people, you are NOT a failure should you be unable to breastfeed. I was not a breastfed baby and neither were my brother or sister and as 6’6″ and 5’10” respectively, it did not stunt our growth.

6- Everyone fumbles in their journey into parenthood, even the rich and famous and country leaders.

7- Your body will become more or less public property and you will think nothing of showing your body both during and post child-birth to even the most good-looking of doctors (!)

8- Babies are not textbooks. Each one is different. My best advice is not to treat all the advice offered as the be all and end all. Listen to your baby more to understand what he/she wants and needs whether that be bottle feeds, cuddles or nappy changes.

9- It’s not a competition for who gets the first smile, neither is it a competition for who stays up the latest, who changes the most nappies.

10- You can’t learn parenting through Google. Sometimes Mummy really does know best. As Mummy you essentially have to learn read minds and will need to have the confidence to hold fast to your convictions as a parent.

11- You are not superwoman and can not do everything. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to or postpone visitors and/or accept help from family and friends.

12- The role of the father is to support the mother. Pregnancy and birth are very much an experience for the mother and child.

It has now been over 2 months since my daughter was born. Although I do miss my old life of spontaneity, I miss waking up after a good night’s sleep. I miss wearing jewellery, straightening my hair. I miss writing but I would not change motherhood for the world. I will not deny it, it is hard from day one but as a mother you will be rewarded one hundred fold. Looking into the eyes of my daughter, seeing her smile and watching her grow makes everything worthwhile. I would do it all over again in an instant.

Motherhood

The Green Green Grass Of Home

I recently attended a family event and it was one of those events that lead you to examine your own life and relationships. My Thalassemia prevented me from joining in some of the celebrations, which at first I regretted but now not so much. It gave me time to think and review my life with a writer’s brain (hence this particular post).

I’m not particularly insecure about many things except what people think of me. I now think this has stemmed from the subconscious understanding from childhood that I always had to do as I was told. As the youngest, I have felt my elder siblings enjoyed a larger amount of freedom than I was granted. I don’t resent them at all and my parents were in no way stricter in raising me than my siblings, it was more a choice on my part than a forced reality from my parents.

I never really fought for anything – even down to deciding which subjects to study at further education, I did not appeal against the “no” I met with when choosing my options. I just accepted it was a “no” and moved on. This led me to studying subjects that others believed I chose because I had a teenage crush on the teacher (even though he had since left the school by this time). It just seemed easier at the time to let people believe this, thinking it would go away but this misconception still follows me. It doesn’t matter now though. I have finally found the path to my calling or true vocation in writing and have lived in between. I have stories to tell that I would not have if I had ‘got my own way’ to begin with.

During the family gathering last weekend, people aware of my health complications asked how I was coping with the pregnancy. As I so often do, I played down the complications for their sake and instead talked about their lives. Everyone likes to talk about themselves but I have the habit of playing everything down for the sake of other people. Even if I wanted to change, how can I go against a lifetime of teaching? It goes against my grain to effectively put my needs above others. Now, I’m not painting myself out to be a saint but sometimes I wish I could talk about myself. I wish I could speak the truth when people ask me how I am. Even during the various medical appointments I now have, I do not emphasise enough how bad I really feel.

I don’t believe I am the only one who does this, in fact I believe we all do. We all believe the ‘grass is greener on the other side’. We all paint our lives to be better than it is. We all pretend to be happier; more content than we really are. In effect we are painting over the straw-like texture of our own grass with deception not for our own sakes but for the sake of everyone else. We all have parts of our lives that we would rather not dwell upon, parts of our lives we wish we could change but are unable to do so. What we so often forget is that nothing can thrive without water. What we need to do more than anything  is to accept the good and bad in our lives. We mustn’t forget the bad because those times are what make us who we are. They give us a chance to change the future, they give us lessons to learn by.

What we must do is nurture what we do have, to pick through the weeds and tend to our own garden before even glancing across the fence and comparing what we have with that of our neighbour.

Title image from scenicreflections.com
Second image from activerain.com
Final image from funhdwallpaperblogspot.co.uk

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